Serge Malenfant moving on from M.U.R.I.R.S.

By Gordon Lambie

Sherbrooke’s outdoor gallery of trompe l’oeil murals is certainly one of its most distinctive features. Created by M.U.R.I.R.S., a collective of professionals whose name stands for Murales Urbaines à Revitalisation d’Immeubles et de Réconciliation Sociale, or, Urban Murals for the Revitalization of Buildings and Social Reconciliation, the collection has grown from an initial work on the corner of Frontenac and Dufferin Streets in 2002, to close to 40 works spread across the city today.
In January of this year Serge Malenfant, the President and Founder of M.U.R.I.R.S. announced that he would be retiring, and the organization followed suit by announcing the end of their operations.
“I’m 61 now,” the artist explained to The Record in a recent interview. “20 years ago, it was easy to go up scaffolding and come back down the equivalent of two Empire State Buildings every day, but now my back and my knees are saying that’s about it.”
Standing beside the work that started off the now well-known tour, Malenfant said that although it took some perseverance to get the ball rolling, M.U.R.I.R.S. reached the point where it felt like they had accomplished what they’d set out to do.
“The idea was that we did the tour, we completed the murals that were our main project and we were trying, as an organization, to figure out what is the next step,” he said adding that since the organization was created for Sherbrooke, the idea that the work in that community is finished means that the group no longer makes sense. The end of M.U.R.I.R.S., therefore, does not mean an end to the work of its members or of murals in Sherbrooke, but rather a time of transition to try something new. The former president also pointed out that since M.U.R.I.R.S. was a not-for-profit organization and never made a dime off of any of its creations, the idea of moving forward without a clear vision of what projects would help sustain the organization was just not feasible.
“Artists in general are more afraid of the end of the month than the end of the world,” he said with a laugh.
Looking back, Malenfant traced the origins of his life as a muralist to a surprising origin.
“It’s kind of a step by step situation. I studied in Fine Arts and had to go work in graphic design to make a living,” the artist recalled, adding that he was also taking courses in costume and set design for theatre, “but in 1990 or 91 I was also working at the youth centre in Lennoxville.”
See full story in the March 27 edition of The Outlet.

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